Chris Thompson raised a very significant issue in his comments about my posting on Nov. 6. Even though those comments were based on a misunderstanding of what I intended to say, they are of great importance, nonetheless. When I wrote that Jesus must be lord of all if he is to be Lord at all, I was thinking about the Lordship of Jesus for one who professes faith in Jesus. Chris took it as a reference to the universal Lordship of Christ, a different topic, but one which is also quite important.
In thinking about the Lordship of Jesus, we need to realize that for the early Christians the choice they had to make was whether to acknowledge Caesar as lord or to confess Jesus as Lord. That was a serious political decision. Thus, confessing Jesus as Lord is never just a personal matter. But it is an significant personal decision, too.
Citing "Tink" Tinker, the Native American theologian whose book American Indian Liberation I have just purchased and started to read, Chris questions whether "lordship" is an appropriate concept for contemporary Christians and asserts that any attempt to seek to force that lordship on others is certainly not appropriate. I wholeheartedly agree with the latter point, but is lordship a completely outmoded concept? (It is interesting that Dr. Cone didn't seem to think so when he wrote God of the Oppressed.)
Paul Tillich, the noted twentieth century theologian, referred to faith as one's "ultimate concern." If that be true, as I think it probably is, we can go on to say that our ultimate concern is that to which we give our primary allegiance. Thus, the object of our ultimate concern is our "lord," even though we might want to use some other term.
Today it is rarely an earthly Caesar that calls for people's allegiance, at least in most of the so-called industrialized nations. Today's "Caesars" are mostly "isms" -- such as hedonism, materialism, nationalism, or even rationalism. These sorts of things are the object of many people's ultimate concerns. Thus, they are the powers that lord it over people's daily lives.
So we are faced with the choice: whether to confess Jesus as Lord and to live by his teachings and values or whether to live in allegiance to some other lord, such as one or more of the prevailing isms of our society. To confess Jesus as Lord has political, economic, familial, recreational, and other ramifications. And it is in this regard that I affirm again, if Jesus is to be Lord at all, he must be Lord of all.